Saturday, October 01, 2011

Keeping the MoJo Flowing: Blog posts I want to write about #hacktoberfest

While I was flying home from Berlin (through a very circuitous route: Berlin --> Warsaw --> London Heathrow --> Denver --> Boulder), I had nearly 24-hours of offline, device-free time to process some of the idea-explosion that happened in my head at the Berlin #hacktoberfest.  I'm back in Colorado now, doing Colorado things like getting an introduction to canyoneering and going to the Great American Beer Festival. But while I still have #hacktoberfest Berlin goodness flooding my brain, here are some discussions I want to continue:
  1.  What does it mean to have a "mosh pit of the minds?" Creative innovation happens when you mash disparate people, ideas and fields together and watch the sparks fly. What are some other mind-moshes we could try (technology + gastronomy, journalism + adventure sports)?
  2. The two functions of data visualization. Data visualization can be used to explore large and unwieldy datasets for patterns and meaning. They can also be used to communicate information quickly and simply. Are the tools that you need for exploratory and communicatory data visualization the same, or are they distinct?
  3. Building the best "tool box." At #hacktoberfest, I kept hearing the concept of a tool box (for journalists, for developers, for storytellers, for data visualization creators) being discussed. (Note: I prefer "bag of tricks" to tool box, because it includes the tools and the skills you need to use them.) What are the different "tool boxes" we should be making, and how can we make them in an open, extensible way?
  4. Instead of creating a "GitHub  for storytelling," what if we just started using GitHub as a reporting tool? I want to do a test case where, as I'm reporting and writing a story, I put all of my materials (notes, audio recordings of interviews, pictures, etc.) up on a GitHub repository. After the story is done (or during, if it isn't a sensitive story), make the repository public. Insta-open-reporters'-notebook!
  5. What is a story to you? In Berlin, we talked over and over about the importance of stories. Data visualizations are meaningless if they don't tell a story. Information needs context and narrative. But what exactly are we talking about when we talk about stories? I'd like to crowd-source this by putting a call out on Twitter asking people to answer the question: "What is a story?" in 140 characters. Then it would be fun to make some visualizations of the responses.
I hope to turn each of these into a blog post in the near future. I have lots of ideas (seven more, at the moment) that I'll add to the list when I get a chance, but first -- to Denver, to drink delicious craft beers!


    Matthew Terenzio said...

    Do you mean "make the repository public?"

    Jordan said...

    Yes! Will make that edit...